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Abdullah’s release of APs holders
list holds the promise that the country is at a turning point to break from
an opaque past of cronyism and corruption to a new chapter of transparency
and national integrity to join the ranks of the world’s least corrupt
(Ipoh, Tuesday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s release of the list of holders of Approved Permits (APs) to import cars is probably his most significant and important action in his 21 months of premiership to walk the talk of a clean, transparent and incorruptible administration.
Abdullah’s bold action has ended the irony and anomaly of his refusing to announce the APs list while his predecessor Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad is pressing for its public release – creating a reversal of roles as Abdullah had pledged to be a “Mr Clean” to wipe out the corruption and power abuses of the past!
Even more significant, Abdullah’s action holds the promise that the country is at a turning point to break from an opaque past of cronyism and corruption to a new chapter of transparency and national integrity to join the ranks of the world’s least corrupt nations.
It is still premature to reach the conclusion that Abdullah is fully set on the course to “walk the talk” to launch an all-out war against corruption in Malaysia, as whatever his personal inclinations, this will depend to a large extent on whether UMNO delegates and leaders at the UMNO General Assembly and UMNO Youth, Wanita and Putri meetings this week give him the full mandate to do whatever is necessary to eradicate money politics in UMNO and wipe out corruption in the country.
His predecessor Dr. Mahathir had also created quite a stir in 1998 when he released the list of privatization beneficiaries in the UMNO General Assembly – but the release was not as an integral part of an anti-corruption strategy but a power play to consolidate Mahathir’s power base in UMNO in the face of a serious challenge by the Anwar forces in UMNO, and therefore a purely one-off affair.
It would not only be unfortunate but most tragic if Abdullah’s release of the APs holders is akin to Mahathir’s release of the privatization list in 1998, when it should be completely different in motivation and effect, leading to a greater momentum in a nation-wide campaign for greater transparency, good governance and integrity in public life.
The release of the APs list has highlighted one basic flaw in Abdullah’s anti-corruption campaign – the lack of support from UMNO and Barisan Nasional leaders and delegates.
In the recent Parliamentary meeting, for instance, DAP MPs received no support whatsoever from the Barisan Nasional MPs and the Barisan Backbenchers Club calling on the Prime Minister to release the APs list. Abdullah’s hand to take tough decisions such as to release the APs list would have been strengthened if Barisan Nasional leaders and MPs, for instance, had also joined publicly in such a call.
From the APs list released yesterday, it would appear that Dr. Mahathir was basically right when he questioned as to why out of the 67,000 APs issued, only 12,600 were given to 82 companies while 54,000 APs were issued to 20 companies.
It is not possible to verify in full the total number of APs issued since 1970, as the particulars on the number and the identity of the APs holders for eight years from 1989 – 1996 are missing. This omission should be rectified by the Prime Minister’s Office.
The Minister for International Trade and Industry, Datuk Rafidah Aziz said yesterday that she is prepared to answer queries on the APs controversy at the UMNO General Assembly.
Rafidah must not only answer to the queries which may or may not be raised at the UMNO General Assembly this week, but which are clearly uppermost in the thoughts of all Malaysians, such as
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP
Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman